UCLA head coach Ben Howland took the high road after being lambasted on ESPN by commentator Bill Walton, one of the most renowned players in program history.
Walton has dished out harsh criticism of the program every time he’s sat courtside at Pauley Pavilion. Thursday night’s ugly win over Washington — one in which the Bruins (17-6, 6-3) shot below 40 percent for the third straight game — was no different, as the Hall of Famer harped on everything from UCLA’s style of play to the rows of empty seats.
Even as Walton all but explicitly called for Howland’s job, the 10th-year head coach kept a level head during a conference call on Friday: “That’s his job. It’s perfectly his right to be critical.”
“Bill was 60-0 his first two years,” Howland added. “His reference point is pretty special and I understand that. What he did and what they did here will be hard to see again in the history of college basketball. His expectations are so high, and I get it, but that’s what makes UCLA so special.”